Tony Blair: ‘Even if you hate me, don’t vote Corbyn’
In a piece for the Guardian, the ex-Labour leader urged supporters not to choose Corbyn simply because they “hated” his Blairite legacy. He said now is the time to intervene in the current trend of ‘Corbyn-mania’ with a “rugby tackle.”
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the left, right or center of the party, whether you used to support me or hate me,” he wrote.
“But please understand the danger we are in. The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below. This is not a moment to refrain from disturbing the serenity of the walk on the basis it causes ‘disunity’. It is a moment for a rugby tackle, if that were possible.”
Blair’s remarks come as the most recent YouGov poll places anti-austerity candidate Corbyn well ahead of his three rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.
YouGov found Corbyn had the support of 53 percent of voters and was heading for a landslide victory over his rivals.
The piece marks Blair’s second intervention in the Labour leadership contest. Last month he urged all voters who felt their hearts were with the veteran left-winger to “get a transplant.”
The comments follow another high-profile intervention from former spin doctor Alistair Campbell, who called on party members to vote for “anyone but Corbyn.”
In the article, Blair wrote Corbyn’s policies were “laughable,” adding the party’s situation was worse than when Michael Foot led Labour to defeat in 1983.
“If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader, it won’t be a defeat like 1983 or 2015 at the next election. It will mean rout, possibly annihilation,” he wrote.
In response to the article, a spokesman for the Corbyn campaign said the team is focused on the impending ballot.
“We are keeping our campaign positive and remain focused on our policies that offer the sound economic choice of investment and growth, not the politically driven agenda of austerity and cuts preventing economic recovery.”
In July, Corbyn dismissed Blair’s “silly” warnings about his campaign and highlighted the former prime minister’s loss of support after the Iraq war.
Leadership candidate Yvette Cooper also spoke out against Corbyn’s policies in a speech on Thursday morning.
In her first speech directly targeting Corbyn, the leadership rival said his economic policies were "not credible."
Speaking in Manchester, Cooper said the left-winger's economic policies would not get Labour elected in 2020 and would not stand up to scrutiny.
Despite having refrained from directly criticising Corbyn up till now, Cooper said she would not "pander" to his supporters or pretend she agreed with his policies.
"I feel really strongly - not just as a leadership candidate but as a Labour Party member that desperately wants an effective Labour government - that his are the wrong answers for the future.
"They aren't radical and they aren't credible. And they won't change the world. They will keep us out of power and stop us changing the world," she said.